Journalists need freedom to promote development

On Monday, the whole world celebrated World Press Freedom Day but Ghana could not celebrate it. Monday had been declared a May Day holiday because May 1 fell on Saturday.Therefore, Ghana marked World Press Freedom Day yesterday.

World Press Day was declared in 1993 by the UNGeneral Assembly following a recommendation made in 1991 at the 26th General Conference session of the UNESCO. The declaration also came as a result of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration; a statement which was produced by African journalists about press freedom, presented at a seminar held by the UNESCO Conference, which concluded on May 3.

The day is celebrated to remind the worldof the need for the protection and safety of the press in the face of attacks against its independence. It is also meant to discuss journalistic ethics and to celebrate journalists who have sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of truth.

The foregoing statement prompt us to the question “which truth?” The truth refers to any significant information from all sectors of society which the public need to know to guide their personal lives and for collective development and progress.

Such information has to do with governance, politics in general, agriculture, commerce, education, security, travel, religion, entertainment and all others we can think of.

This information is special in that even if it is coming from the history books, it has to do with current issues or topics.

That is to saythe truth must be current and relevant information that inform, educate and entertain society and this is carried by only by the media through their various outlets of newspapers, television, radio, online portals and what has come to be known as social media.

It must be stated that every nation that seeks to be seen as practicing true democracy needs to have the press as its appendage.

Therefore the press is hailed as the fourth pillar of democracy, yet politicians and other powerful people in many countries hate the press because they carry the truth which exposes all their corruption, nepotism, dictatorial acts, incompetence, negligence, lies, all manner of acts of suppression, even their moral shortcomings and what have you.

Therefore, reporters, editors and photographers have to risk their reputations and lives for the truth behind events.

Such tasks require a degree of freedom which is guaranteed by the constitutions of democratic nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has it on record, for instance, that a total of 50 journalists were killed worldwide in 2020, while 53 were killed in 2019, including Ahmed Suale of Ghana.

 World Press Day remind us that many publications and their editors and reporters are often prevented from doing their jobs, censored and banned. Many get imprisoned or killed even.

The theme for World Press Day 2021 is“Information as a Public Good”.

The Ghanaian Times, therefore, wishes to share in the appeal bythe Country Director of UNESCO, Diallo Abdourahamane, to the government to ensure full implementation of the Right ToInformation (RTI). This can surely boost the country’s current press freedom ranking of 30th out 180 globally and second in Africa.

The paper also wishes to appeal to governments around the globe to adhere to good governance practices to save themselves failing the test of the truth that makes them attack journalists.

They should also strengthen their investigation systems in order to catch those in society who also attack journalists.

That way journalists would have the freedom to support and promote journalists, all in the bid to achieve progress and development.

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